Government consultation backed

Lisa Taylor with her daughter Ebony
Lisa Taylor with her daughter Ebony

A MUM has welcomed a Government consultation into plain packaging for cigarettes.

Former smoker Lisa Taylor, 35, is in favour of standardised packaging if it prevents youngsters from lighting up.

Campaign group FRESH has also welcomed the consultation and said the Plain Packs Protect campaign is an “important step” towards reducing the allure of smoking to children.

Research shows the average age of starting smoking in the North-East is just 15, but some start as young as nine.

Lisa, of Tweddle Crescent, Blackhall, who started smoking aged 11, appeared in the Hartlepool Mail last month after revealing how her life had changed after finally packing in.

She gave up after daughter Ebony, 10, pleaded with her to quit.

Lisa said: “I’ve got a 10-year-old daughter who is starting to become more conscious about how she looks, so I would hate for her to be influenced to start smoking because of colourful packaging.

“I quit smoking in June 2011 and feel so much better for it.

“I feel more relaxed and have more time for my children as I am no longer telling them to wait while I have a cigarette.”

Lisa, who lost both her grandparents to cancer caused by smoking, lives with husband Andrew, 39, a bus driver, and their three children Ebony, Lewis, eight, and Grace, five.

Seven years ago she also tragically lost her unborn baby son Dylan at 39 weeks and blamed the cigarettes.

She added: “I’ve seen the terrible affects of what smoking can do to people’s health, so I really believe that plain pack tobacco should be introduced – especially to make health warnings more noticeable.”

Ailsa Rutter, director of FRESH, said: “Smoking is an addiction that starts in childhood.

“It is not surprising when you see the number of colourful, attractive tobacco products being offered on the shelves, with packaging to look like make up and MP3 players.”

FRESH is supporting the national Plain Packs Protect campaign, which they are running in partnership with campaigning charity ASH, the British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research UK.

Consultant paediatrician Dr Jagat Jani, at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, said the majority of new smokers start in childhood.

Dr Jani said: “They are more at risk of respiratory problems, coughs, impaired lung growth and premature lung function decline, as well as having a bigger risk of developing lung cancer and heart disease.”